Top lawmakers on congressional committees tasked with government oversight agree that while the Obama administration is handling the Secret Service scandal well, one of the greatest dangers remains in the potential harm to the agency's reputation.
“A large part of their success is that people know that they cannot penetrate the armor of the Secret Service. And so I think the Secret Service needs to pause here, look very carefully at itself, and if changes are appropriate, they need to make them,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Twelve Secret Service agents are under investigation for alleged misconduct involving prostitutes while on advance work for President Obama’s recent visit to Cartagena, Colombia. As of Friday, six had resigned, retired, or been fired from the agency.
Though lawmakers have raised concerns that the conduct of the agents reveals a deeper cultural issue in the Service, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said he believes the incident is “an aberration” and the real concern is an inappropriate reaction to the controversy.
“I think the important thing is that we not allow an overreaction that would do more damage to the Secret Service, rather than the appropriate response,” he said. Coburn said that while he's "not critical of what the administration has done" on the issue, those involved should be removed – a position that echoed Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s, R-Texas.
“We are at a moment in history that for the Secret Service to go forward, the cancer must be carved out. Frankly, I think there should be no tolerance, zero tolerance,” she said.